Life, and all its joys can take a lot out of you. Travel plans, shopping, cooking, parties with friends and families, and the regular 9-5 can take its toll on a person. While many toss their dietary restraints out the window only to pledge for a new year filled with healthy choices, others forget one of the most important and commonly neglected aspects of overall health: Rest.

Sleep and general rest are essential for overall health. Here are a few key benefits for rest:
1. Improved Memory – Lack of sleep can make it difficult for you to concentrate and retain information. When you sleep, your brain goes through all the activities and impressions of the day which is important for memory formation.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight – Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same area of the brain. Sleep releases hormones that control appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat.
3. Heart Health – A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
4. Reduce Stress – Sleep and stress have similar affects on your cardiovascular stress. Being well rested can reduce stress levels and improve your overall health.

There are also spiritual benefits to rest as well. The bible has several references to the value of rest and restoration. Exodus chapter 20: 8-11, describes how God himself rested after he completed his work in 6 days. So I challenge you all to make a resolution this coming year to get the rest your body and mind deserves. Here are a few tips to get started:

1. A Day of Rest: Take a day each week to rest from your usual hectic schedule. Spent time with family, read a book, go to church, or choose an activity that enables you celebrate the gifts that life has to offer.
2. Lights out: Give yourself a strict schedule for going to sleep. For example, once bedtime comes make sure to turn of the television, put down your smartphone, or close that book you were reading.
3. Write it down: Challenge yourself to keep a log of the time you go to sleep, what time you wake up, and any improvement you may feel. Try this for a month.

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For Fitness: Rest needs to be factored into your training regime
When embarking on a new workout regime and you start seeing great results.  There is often the tendency to overdo it.  I have fallen foul of this myself, and often fail to get adequate rest.  This is often cited:
“If I work out more frequently, or for longer than the results will surely be better?” – Anon.
One thing is for sure.  High intensity workouts performed for 6-7 days a week, will definitely result in burnout, a lack of motivation, illness and injury.
Six benefits of rest:
  1. Aids Recovery:  a day or two off per week is required to allow bone, muscle, tendons and ligaments the time to recover and repair themselves.  Muscle growth occurs during rest periods, not during exercise;
  2. Keeps you healthy:  avoids the risk of the immune response being compromised due to over-training;
  3. Helps you sleep:  adequate sleep allows the mind to repair itself and develop new connections (useful when learning new skills, adaptations);
  4. Lowers stress: decreases abnormal levels of cortisol (stress hormone): This will allow alertness, productivity and general health to be maintained;
  5. More energy throughout the day:   adequate rest helps you avoid energy slumps during the day, ensuring workouts are more effective and efficient;
  6. Boosts brain function:  allows for better concentration and focus.

I often repeat the mantra: 

“There is no such thing as over-training, but under-resting.”  

This is certainly true, and needs to be factored into your training regime – whatever it may be.